In 2005, Brian Anderson of Inverness encountered the same homeless man each day at an expressway exit while on his way to work. One morning as he made lunch to take to work, Brian also made a lunch for the homeless man. Soon the two started forming a relationship. When weather turned cold, Brian bought the man a cup of coffee and took the time to learn about the man’s life. The man said that when it was really cold, he panhandled for money to ride the ‘L’ day and night. One day Brian didn’t see his friend in the usual spot so he went searching for him. During his quest, Brian saw many homeless people on the streets and turned to his faith to determine a plan to help.
Brian soon realized that he could use a 1,000-square-foot bungalow he and his wife, Laura owned and rented in Englewood to rehabilitate it into a food pantry. In March 2009, Shepherd’s HOPE Chicago was born, serving supplemental food to 60 families on the first day.
Shepherd’s HOPE Chicago feeds over 500 families per week during two four-hour days of operation. Since 2009, the facility has fed over 5,500 families. At the facility, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing and information is also provided once per month, bible studies are held once per week, and for the past two years Thanksgiving dinner food distributions and Christmas parties for children have been provided. Last spring, with the help of donors, Shepherd’s HOPE purchased a new building that will be developed into a community center. At the center, youth and adults will be educated about farming from an urban perspective, as open lots on the street will be used to grow fresh produce to eat, share and sell. Children’s educational needs will also be met through tutoring, as well as reading, computer and general educational development (GED) classes.
“When Shepherd’s HOPE opened, there were three drug houses on the street and violence occurred daily,” said nominator Lynne Sell, member of the Shepherd’s HOPE Board of Directors. “That is no longer the case. From the beginning, Brian realized it was not just about the food, but about establishing relationships that lead to personal and community transformation. Brian is a shepherd who has brought hope to an impoverished and devastated community.”